Make Your Own Time Capsule

No denying it, the world has changed a lot in the last year. Everyday life looks very different for a lot of us.

But that’s exactly why today is a good time to make a time capsule for your future selves!

Imagine opening the capsule in 10, 20 or 50 years’ time. What would you like to know about from 2021? How do you think the world might have changed?

What is a time capsule?

A time capsule is a collection of information and goods that are intended to communicate information about this moment in the present to people in the future.

Here’s how:

Our family had a blast making a time capsule, check out the video to see what we included and where we hid the capsule. (Shhhhh!)

Find an empty container with a lid. This container must last a long time so consider using something made from plastic, glass or metal.

Fill the box with memories from your home. Add items that reflect normal life and current events. Think about what you would like to hear from yourself in the future. Decorate the outside of the capsule. Decide when you will open the capsule and write this date on the outside with a permanent marker. Maybe cover the date with plastic tape to protect it. (Your future self will be very annoyed with you if they can’t read the date!)

Seal the capsule and hide it away! You can bury the box in your backyard (ask your dog to help), but you don’t have to. You may end up moving to a new house so consider hiding the box out of sight inside. We chose to hide ours in the attic. To protect your capsule, place the box somewhere away from direct sunlight, dampness, and pests.

What’s in the box? Here are some ideas

  • Letters to your future selves
  • Pictures showing your daily life/home
  • Photographs (printed or on a USB stick)
  • Toys
  • Current Newspapers
  • School reports
  • Receipts showing the price of a weekly shop
  • A list of your favourite shows, movies and books
  • Letters for your children when they are older
  • Wrappers from your favourite foods
  • Funny stories and quotes from children in your household
  • Height, weight and age of people living in your house. Don’t forget your pets!
  • Artwork
  • Anything else you can think of!

  • Have fun making your time capsule! We’d love to see what your family made, share photos of your time capsule on social with #motatfun

    MOTAT Time Capsules

    MOTAT has the privilege of hosting not one but TWO time capsules. The MOTAT time capsule is buried outside the Walsh Memorial Library at MOTAT 1. The capsule is sealed within a large metal tube and buried 10 metres beneath a stone plinth.

    This capsule was created in 1976 and will stay buried for 100 years! How old will you be when it is dug up?

    Time capsule ceremony at MOTAT
    MOTAT Time Capsule Ceremony 1976.
    MOTAT. Photograph [Time Capsule Ceremony], 05-1715. The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)
    crowd watches the burying of MOTAT's time capsule
    Crowds of people watching the Time Capsule Ceremony, 1976
    MOTAT. Photograph [Time Capsule Ceremony], 05-1718. The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT)
    bronze plaque for MOTAT time capsule 1976
    MOTAT. Plaque [Time Capsule], 2003.339. The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).

    The photos above show the ceremony putting the Time Capsule in place in 1976 and the plaque that is in place over the top of it. Try to find it when you next visit MOTAT.

    The NAC Time Ball

    The National Airways Corporation “time ball” was created by the National Airways Corporation (NAC) and was sealed in 1970 by the then Prime Minister. The NAC became part of Air New Zealand later that decade and the time capsule was also inherited. In 2002, the time capsule was gifted to MOTAT to keep safe for all New Zealanders. The capsule will not be opened until 2150. How many years will it be sealed for?

    The precious contents are concealed within a stainless steel box, sealed with an inert gas to protect them from the elements. This box sits within a greenstone boulder that is supported by twelve metal legs. The greenstone was donated by the people of the South Island, it was chosen because it represented “unique NZ”.

    NAC Time Capsule a stone time ball
    National Airways Corporation. Time Capsule [NAC], 2002.252. The Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT).

    This unique capsule was designed by Robert Hampton. The original designs and models were unfortunately lost during the sinking of the Wahine in 1968. Fortunately, the designer survived and went on to recreate the designs.

    The contents of the capsule are a mystery for us to ponder. Given the time it was made and the company that made it, what do you think it contains?